by Benjamin Folkman



These selections—each infused with Paul Bowles’ characteristic musical charm—typify two different aspects of his compositional style.  Prelude No. 5 blends jazz inflections with an American modernism reminiscent of Copland’s, particularly in its French elements; Orosí, by contrast, reflects Bowles’ continuing fascination with Mexican dance idioms. Both pieces can justly be termed gems.






Bowles originally intended this beguiling piece as the central Allegro of his peculiarly titled Sonatina Fragmentaria, a three-movement work written in 1933 which has never reached print.   Although a publisher accepted the sonatina in 1941 and even had the music engraved,  its release was canceled, for reasons that remain unclear (one factor may have been the severe wartime restrictions on paper supplies, which caused many publishers to scale back their catalogues).

Presumably realizing that the Allegro was far more attractive than the sonatina’s other two movements, Bowles found a new home for it after the war, using it as the fifth of his Six Piano Preludes, a set culled from miscellaneous keyboard movements written between 1933 and 1945.  To listen to Prelude No. 5 in a MIDI realization by Benjamin Folkman, click here.




Bowles’ substantial body of Latin-influenced music represents a fortunate confluence between his personal taste and a vogue for things South American that swept the U. S. during the early 1940s, fostered by the government’s “good neighbor” policy.  It was no accident that Carmen Miranda then became the highest-paid entertainer on Broadway, nor is it surprising that Bowles’ most substantial commissions and subsidies came for such Latino  works as the ballet Pastorela (1941) and his zarzuela, The Wind Remains (1943).

Orosí, a souvenir of the composer’s experiences in Mexico, was written in 1948 in Morocco, at a time when the primary focus of Bowles’ activities was shifting from music to prose.  Indeed, Bowles let more than thirty years pass before making any effort to give Orosí to the public, at last including it in a set of Latin-American pieces.  To listen to Orosí in a MIDI realization by Benjamin Folkman, click here.



More Sound Clips: Lost and Found Music: Two Paul Bowles Dance Works


BENJAMIN FOLKMAN is well known as an annotator and lecturer on music Folkman is the president of The Tcherepnin Society and the author-editor of the book Alexander Tcherepnin: A Compendium. Folkman was a Gold Record winner for his work on the landmark electronic album Switched-On Bach. His Micropartita for piano was recorded by Paul Posnack for Crystal Records, and he has made an orchestration of Paul Bowles' Tamanar.

Paul Bowles, Composer by Irene Herrmann

Buy the audio CD: Paul Bowles: A Musical Portrait

To obtain copies of these and other scores of Paul Bowles' music, please write to Irene Herrmann, the musical heir of the Estate of Paul Bowles: Herrmann@ucsc.edu

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